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Legendary coach John Wooden partnered with FCA 60 years ago

During the most exciting time in college basketball, FCA reflects on Wooden’s faithful service.

Published on March 28, 2018

by FCA

Each March, college basketball fans undoubtedly look back on the coaching legends of the game — Jim Phelan, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Adolph Rupp, Jimmy Valvano and many others.

John Wooden is always near the top of the list. Wooden was a staunch supporter of FCA and became involved in the international sports ministry 60 years ago.

Synonymous with NCAA college basketball, Wooden’s teams at Indiana State and UCLA for 29 seasons displayed athletic excellence, with UCLA winning 10 national championships. Wooden, who died in June 2010, is one of the few individuals to have been inducted as both a college player and coach into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“As sports fans everywhere have been enjoying this incredibly exciting college basketball tournament, we can’t help but think back on the coaching giants of the sport,” said Shane Williamson, FCA’s President and CEO. “His amazing accomplishments in sports still impact countless former players, other coaches and business leaders who were tremendously influenced by his leadership principles and life lessons found in his famous ‘Pyramid of Success.’ But even more than that, John Wooden was a quiet giant for Christ as well, sharing his faith over his career and always putting God first. Sixty years after his first involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we continue to be thankful for his life and commitment to this ministry.”

Many leaders and volunteers within FCA developed long-lasting relationships with Wooden, who was involved with the ministry almost from the start of its existence. Wooden partnered with FCA in June 1958. During his coaching career and in the 35 years after his retirement, Wooden attended and spoke at many FCA events.

“I first became involved in FCA when it was a young movement in the 1950s,” Wooden once said. “I quickly discovered the impact it could have in the lives of athletes and coaches. Since I spent my time in that field, it was only natural that I became involved in FCA. I’m glad I did.”

Wooden’s children and grandchildren attended many FCA camps, and he also personally presented, until a few years before his death at the age of 99, the John Wooden Keys to Life Award to an outstanding Christian athlete or coach during the Men’s Final Four basketball championship.

“FCA is a great organization, and it serves an outstanding purpose,” Wooden said of the ministry. “It is a wonderful opportunity for young people. I like to see how it has progressed at the various campuses throughout the country.”

Decades since Wooden’s initial involvement, countless people are still impacted by his FCA resources, such as devotionals, interviews and Bible studies.

You can see the Wooden collection of FCA resources here.


-FCA-

John Wooden